A match report from the 1898 US championships. This one sends chills down my spine when I read it. The loser, Marion Jones, came from "the West". Little Juliet Atkinsonhad the home court advantage. Think Serena playing Mauresmo at the French Open and you're starting to get the picture.
Add in a hot day.
On top of that these hardly gals play 3 sets out of 5-in whale bone corsets and shoes that probably made their feet bleed.
And then those match points. 5 match points! And you won't believe how badly Marion Jones was robbed on two of them!
What follows is hot off the presses-the original match report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A Tennis Battle That Was Royal
Championship play breaks a record for stubborness and quality Miss Atkinson Wins--Successfully defends her cup against Miss Jones--Latter meets with misfortunes.
Miss Juliet Atkinson is again lawn tennis champion of the women players of the United States. Good luck, superior physical condition and hard, nervy play enabled her to win yesterday at the Philadelphia Cricket Club grounds. Miss Marion Jones is the daughter of Senator Jones of Nevada.
This is a total of 26 games for Miss Atkinson and 25 games for Miss Jones. The point total was 185 points for Miss Jones to 177 for Miss Atkinson.
It can be safely said that none of the previous 11 women's contests (from 1887) was there such an exciting finish. To show the grand excitement of the contest and to tell why the crowded grand stand remained nearly filled until long after the dinner hour, it is but necessary to explain the score in the deciding moments.
Each of the plucky girls had won two sets,and in the 5th and deciding set the score stood :Miss Jones 5, Miss Atkinson 3. All Miss Jones had to do was win the set on hand. In it the score was 40 to 30 in her favor. All she needed was one point to win the game, set, match, and united States championship. Just one little point, and here is where Miss Jones' misfortunes commenced.
In the rally Miss Atkinson returned and the ball struck a ball not in play, lying in Miss Jones' court owing to the negligence of the umpires. The ball in play glanced off and shot along the ground, so that Miss Jones could not return it. This made the game "deuce" and Miss Atkinson won out.
This brought the score in games to 5 to 4 in Miss Jones' favor. Still she had the better chance. Four times in this set she needed but a point to win,and yet she never got it, Miss Atkinson "deucing" it and eventually scoring the two consecutive points. Once Miss Jones had "vantage" and needed but a point. Miss Atkinson's return went outside of the court and and the match then and there belonged to Miss Jones, but the umpire on that line failed to do his duty and decided, contrary to the fact, that the ball was in. This decision alone cost Miss Jones the match. This little Westerner deserves unlimited praise for her splendid showing in this, her first appearance in a US championship match without the age and experience of her opponent, lacking her physical condition and having been unwell for several days, she all but defeated a champion twice.
As to the quality of play, it was the best that has ever been put up at these tounaments. The rallies were often long and spirited and both played well and made some splendid strokes. Miss Atkinson went up to the net oftener and was very effective, but the game was distinctly a back court struggle. Both used a well-judged, hard, low fore-hand stroke with good effect,and did some remarkablt clever back hand work as well. As the club's poet, Mr. "Cliff" Patterson, put it:
Good shots on both sides followed fast
But some one had to yield at last.
One thing that told very material in Miss Atkinson's favor was physique. To use a masculine athletic term of condition, "She was hard as nails". She is light and very active and this enabled her to cover more ground than Miss Jones, whose stocky stature and weight were no inconsiderable handicap.
Atkinson d. Jones 6-3 5-7 6-4 2-6 7-5